Pirate Consort Snippet: Prologue Part 3

Here is the final part of the prologue to Pirate Consort, coming soon. I hope you all have enjoyed reading this opening to a book I am very excited to share. Make sure you read part one and part two before reading this one, if you haven’t already.

Pirate Consort, Prologue Part 3

 

Let me speak to him. Boy. This voice was new. Female. He froze, something about it so compelling that it broke through his frantic thoughts, scattering them.

My queen, you should not be here. Kai did not sound happy, and this, too, made the boy pause and think.

There’s more than one of you? The thought was a whisper that escaped his attempts to control it.

Feminine laughter filled his mind. Of course. 

How many?

Why, all of us. The woman didn’t sound mad, or worried, or coaxing. She sounded amused.

Something about her voice drew him. His heart thumped in his chest. He’d never been so scared in his life, and yet something about her calmed him better than the counting exercise. An old ghost of a memory surfaced. A woman’s hand brushing his hair back from his temple. It was soothing in the way this woman was soothing. His fear drained away. He stopped drawing power, but held the drive core poised to be flooded, just in case.

Who are you?

My name is Lilith. 

Lilith. He tested her name out in his thoughts, mesmerized by it.

It is customary to exchange names when meeting someone.

I have none. I am a slave. 

Silence. The boy felt something, like a tremendous pressure. It filled the silence and he sought out the comfort of the ship’s nanites in case the walls should crumple beneath the force of it. But nothing happened.

When her voice came again, Lilith sounded empty of amusement. Instead there was a complete absence of emotion. No.

Confused, the boy wondered if he’d missed a question someone had asked.

No what?

No, you are not a slave. You are not nameless. 

But I am.

Not anymore. Lilith’s voice held more command than any of the masters he had ever served. You are one of us, and we do not tolerate slavery. You are free. 

The chain holding him to his alcove sheared and fell slack. He stared at it, uncomprehending. It wasn’t nanograph, but pure titanium, like the bulkhead it attached to. He couldn’t manipulate it. Yet, something had sliced through it with the ease of a hot razor cutting wax.

A sound made him look up, and he found himself staring up at the most beautiful face he had ever seen. Two people stood before him, though the door to the engine room was still closed and locked. How did they get in? One of them was a man, tall and intimidating. He wore an armored chest piece similar to what Braxton and his mercenaries used, but it had a faint pattern the boy recognized: nanograph, but lighter and more flexible than the ship. The most expensive armor on the market. Nearly impossible to get.

The second person was a woman. Her dark hair fell in a long braid over her shoulder. She wore an armored vest and shirt, not nanograph, but the material fluid as only the most expensive armored clothing could be. Her face held a fierce, striking beauty. The boy met her startling green eyes and was enthralled. She reached a hand out to him, her skin a dusky bronze that made him think of sun-drenched planets.

He stared at her fingers, sitting immobile. His mind held to the drive core with a strange desperation. He wanted badly to take her hand. He wondered what would happen when he did.

These people have used you. Sold you for their own profit, abused your gifts. You don’t belong with them. The woman’s mental voice was soft, yet held more authority than all of Braxton’s shouting. You belong with us.

Still, he hesitated. A pirate? His tone was dubious. He didn’t want to do any of the things in the stories. He didn’t want to space people or maroon them, or own his own slaves. He didn’t want to hurt people unless he had to. He knew what it felt like to be hurt.

Her eyes gleamed, and he had the feeling she was amused again. Give us a chance. If you decide you don’t want to stay, I won’t force you. 

He stared into her eyes, wanting so badly to believe her.

I swear to you. If you don’t wish to come with us, we will leave you here. She paused, glancing over her shoulder. The boy realized the man was speaking to her mentally. She gave a nod, then turned back to meet his eyes again. We will even fix your drive core, so you can jump to a waystation. Her expression hardened. And we will remove everyone else from the ship, and give you a cut from our take.

His suspicion deepened. No one helped a slave like him for free. Why would you do that?

You are like us. Talented.

He thought about that. He’d been sold for his abilities. For what he could do. If these people were like him, maybe they didn’t need his Talent. Maybe they really would help him.

You don’t want anything?

Only for you to be free. And safe. 

He studied her. He could usually get a sense of what someone was like when he met them. But she was a contradiction. Hard, yet soft. Distant, but vibrant and warm. He thought about what she said. Even if she did everything she promised, and he made it to the waystation – even if he had credits or hard coin to start a new life – he had no idea where to go or what to do. He’d been a slave for as long as he could remember. And he felt drawn to this woman as he had never felt drawn to anyone before. She felt warm and safe. Like something forgotten, but right on the edge of his consciousness. Something he didn’t know he’d been missing.

Or, you can come with us. Where I promise you, no one will ever hurt you again. She was still holding her hand out to him. Waiting.

What would I have to do?

Her head tilted as she eyed him. Why, learn. Learn your heritage. How to properly shield your mind and use your Talent more efficiently. She paused, a smile widening her lips. Learn who you really are.

The boy swallowed. He wanted to do everything she said. But he was so afraid. He thought about the peace of the void that awaited him. His mind still held the drive core, ready to punch power into it with a thought.

Lilith waited, like she had all of the time in the universe. The man behind her shifted, looking uncomfortable. His stance over the woman was protective. Worried.

She was important. Not someone who should be waiting on a nobody like him. Kai had called her a queen. The boy looked down at his own grimy fingers, his skin pale beneath the layer of dirt and bruises, the nails bitten to the quick. A tightness filled his chest and his breath hitched. For a horrible moment he thought he might cry, and he knew if he did he wouldn’t be able to bear the humiliation.

“Sebastian,” said Lilith.

The boy looked up, his eyes darting to the man, but he wasn’t moving. She wasn’t talking to him.

“What?” he asked out loud. His voice cracked.

She smiled at him, and it was the most glorious thing he’d ever seen. “Your name. It will be Sebastian, if you like.”

The man behind her made a noise. His chin lifted in obvious surprise.

“It was my father’s name.” There was something in Lilith’s voice. An echo of sadness. “A good name for a strong man.”

The tightness in the boy’s chest expanded.

“Sebastian.” It felt strange as his tongue shaped the name. His name. Tears blurred his vision, and he dropped his hold on the drive core, letting it go silent and dead once more. When he moved, it was in a clumsy lunge forward to grasp Lilith’s fingers before she changed her mind. Her touch was warm, firm, but not painful. She took his hand like he was an equal.

“I like that name,” he said, ducking his head so she wouldn’t see his tears.

Lilith pulled him to his feet. She smiled at him as though he was the most important person in the universe.

“Welcome home, Sebastian.”

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